New report on Global Public Goods

2 November 2001

A new study for the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs by the UK-based Institute of Development Studies contains case studies on financing mechanisms for biodiversity conservation, climate change abatement, peace and security, HIV/AIDS research and financial stability. It emphasizes the need for clear international regulatory regimes and flexible financing mechanisms for the provision of global public goods. “There is a great danger in over-reliance on the International Financial Institutions,” commented one of the lead authors at a seminar in Stockholm in October.

There were diverging views from seminar participants on the role of IFIs in financing peace and security efforts and on the usefulness of the concept of global public goods more broadly. World Bank discussant Uma Lele, Senior Advisor for Global Programs and Policies, stressed Bank technical know-how should be tapped to complement financing. Another Bank staff member thought the public goods concept should be abandoned completely as it “neither helped in global policy development, nor in raising new funds.”

There was a strong call for clarity on exactly what should be classified as a global public good and how these would feed into (not replace) national and local systems – something that the report tries to address.

Some felt the concept could be used as a political tool to raise more money for development in the context of globalisation and increased interdependence. Others cautioned it would divert scarce ODA resources from poverty focused activities to more general development oriented efforts, such as biodiversity in middle income countries.

Norwegian State Secretary of International Development, Sigrun Mogedal, agreed on the potential of the global public good concept in generating additional resources but stressed that discussions around global public goods need to be kept within the framework of the Millennium Goals. “We can’t keep up the momentum on the poverty reduction agenda if we don’t deliver but simply start to talk about something else,” she said. The final report will be released in December.

Development Financing 2000

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